tv Your Business MSNBC July 24, 2016 4:30am-5:01am PDT
good morning. coming up on msnbc's your business. when this entrepreneur's husband died she had to take over his company. find out how she got the business back on its feet. plus, how small businesses can attract customers and cash in on the pokemon go craze. that and so much more coming up next on "your business."
hi, there, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business" where we provide small business owners with information and inspiration. starbucks' ceo howard schultz once said in times of adversity and change we really discover who we are and what we're made of. rebecca barlow found that out the hard way. she was running her own company when her husband suddenly died and then she discovered that his business was falling apart. her story of battling employee
business and sexism turned it around and her story has lessons we can all learn from. when rebecca barlow left her corporate job back in 2003 and launched her child care agency, she had a simple strategy for growth. >> i just started very small and kind of built it out. i just took on a client or two at a time. i didn't have to invest anything and i really learned the lesson of growing a business organically. did you log into bella and see the families that haven't been called back yet? >> rebecca's very personal one-on-one customer service is what set her apart from the competition. >> i treated every customer as if they were me looking for my own children. how did jackson do today? >> good. he's doing good. >> you have to exceed expectations within six months. i gave myself a pat on the back and said well, done, sister, you did. >> it but triumph turned to
tragedy in 2011 when rebecca's husband of 13 years died unexpectedly. >> that was the most unbelievable tragedy you can remember. >> at that time her husband steve had been running his own business, ammy flood, a water damage remediation company. unbeknownst to her the business s tanking and things were sinking financially on the home front. >> had not been involved in paying the house bills. i found out that my house haddenn't been paid in six months. wi us on the verge of closure. >> giving up wasn't an option. rebecca knew she had to keep acme afloat. when she stepped in and took over, many fought with the idea. >> here's this woman coming in telling us what to do. what do you know about this industry. >> the solution was simple. >> i immediately enrolled myself in a water remediation business class to understand what the
business was about and to speak their language. >> talking the talk was easy, but gaining the employees' respect was another. >> getting them to trust me as their leader, thied take it down a notch. i had to take it down a notch. i was getting on their level and it was meeting them where they were at. >> three i tested came back positive so those are getting done today, tomorrow. >> positive for asbestos? >> correct. >> she started keying key problems across acme's three divisions, flood, plumbing, and recon diction. >> the first thing i noticed was the reconstruction department at acme was taking money from the flood department to cover its payroll. we weren't making more than 5% profit on those jobs. >> so rebecca started cleaning up by the roots creating major aunld expected changes. >> i just decided we can't do
reconstruction. it's taking our profit away from our most profitable department so i had to let everyone go. >> plumbing was also laced with issues. >> fired the lead of that department and i let go of all the plumbers we were working with. then we were just left with acme flood. >> rebecca felt that scaling back the business and downsizing the head count drastically was the only positive for the company's survival. >> if you know that something is affecting your business negatively, my best advice is follow your gut, get rid of it, and focus what you're good at. >> she drew on her experience of billing bella bambino organically and knew the only way she could turn acme around was to build it from scratch. >> i took it down to a p where i was comfortable and i felt like i had my arms around it. it was me, one technician, and a bookkeeper working out of my spare bedroom in my house. >> with limited resources acme
could only handal limited alt of customers. >> i took it as an opportunity to scale down her customer, help create a company culture that is focused on fixing your problem in the best way possible. when you wake up at 3:00 in the morning and your house is covered in water, you're freaking out, right? the secret sauce is not water damage. the secret sauce is how you're treating your customers. >> and when rebecca needed advice in certain areas shrks e was fearless in her approach to find the answers. >> i called owners of other flood companies, everyone was willing to help. it really blew my mind. they wanted to see a single mom make it. >> despite the challenge of raising four children and running both acme flood and bella bambino, rebecca has come out on top. >> go team. >> when i stepped in, acme was doing around $600,000 a year.
last year we were over $2 million. and this year, we're looking at $4 million and i want to show people that i can do it. i don't have a business degree. i just have a life degree. anyone can do it. rebecca's story points out how important it is to have a success plan in place for your small business. it's imperative you develop a plan for what happens when you're not there anymore. michael thames is founder of consulting firm avail paper and he's author of the book "succession planning: it works." >> thank you for having me. >> there are two things, one is what happens to me in the story i just saw when i can't run my business anywhere and the other is when i'm ready to rae tire or sell my business and move on. so what do you do? do you need to have the same kind of planning in place and
when should you start thinking about this. >> regardless of whether you're planning for that or planning for grouk, you should effective willty same plan in place. >> what does it mean to have a succession plan? >> it's really just -- or succession plaing in general is developing leaders at every level of an organization. on a very basic level, success planning is two things. one is identifying people with leadership potential and, two is developing that potential. >> is it about saying one day i'm not going to be here and joe is going to be in charge? is it actually pointing to the person who's going to take over for you, or is it saying here are a group of people and any one of them could take charge? >> yeah. and i think that's a mistake that a lot of companies make is that they only -- they anoint one person to be their successor, and that can be a problem if something happens to that successor.
it's the latter, j.j. it's selecting and developing a group of individuals who can step in and take in at various times. >> what are the biggest mistakes people make when thinking about this? >> i think the most obvious mistake that businesses make is not having a success plan that we've just seen. but i think another mistake that businesses make when they start to think about succession planning is i need to promote some people and get some people, kind of my next level of management ready here and i'm going fro moat people. they do that based on technical ability only and they don't consider their leadership ability and that's called the peter principle. that's promoting people to their level of incompetence and it's not fair to the individual to set them up for failure, nor is it fair to the business. >> when somebody's thinking about succession planning, should they talk about this with the team? >> no. the worst thing that could
possibly happen when you have a succession plan and you're working with individuals and developing people and getting them ready, the worst thing that can possibly happen is have those individuals say you know what? i'm giving my resignation, i'm leaving because i don't see any career opportunity for me here. i'm going somewhere where i can have more opportunity advanced. if they say, no, no, no, i was thinking of this, i have a promoting plan for you. no, it's too late. >> be very obvious and very forthright. one day i'm going to leave and that's why we're doing this. >> you've got it. >> michael, thanks so much for coming on the show. we really appreciate it. >> thanks so much for having me. i have worked in two kinds of startups throughout my career. ventureback companies with tons of money and bootstrapped ones where every dollar counts, and though you would think that doing things with lots of money is easier, sometimes the better ideas come when money is scarce.
as owners of a handmade company comes out, you often come up with the best strategy. everything i have seen has a limitation previously has helped define who we are and has ultimately been one of our greatest strengths. >> when ron morris and his husband started their business mercantile home which is a mix, they pretty much had nothing more than an idea. >> this was a dream that did not have any sort of financing. we were nerve in lead with banks, couldn't take out loans, probably because we couldn't get them if we had asked. >> they had what they thought was a great idea but no obvious sources to see it through so they were forced to be innovative and every money saving decision they made became part of the fabric of what the brand is today. >> we always worked with what we
had. when that's nothing, we have mined the one natural resource that we know we have, which is our creativity. >> that started from day one when the entire company was a $500 loan from ken's parents. that didn't get them very far. >> it bought us the fabric and the basic supplies. >> they started looking around. >> we had tons of fabric that had been collected by me since i was little or given to me by my aunt imagine and they turned into something that were gifts. >> because they didn't have reams, everything they made from shirts to pillows was one of a kind. today even though they have more, that i stick to their roots and part of their identity and why people love their products. >> almost all of the fabric groups have been given to us or we buy secondary excess or inventory. it has to be low cost.
we're not a high end thing. >> their lack of funds also meant they didn't have a marketing budget. the company started in brooklyn, new york, but moved to easton, pennsylvania, where they opened their store. they took every opportunity they got to bring customers in. >> you say hi to everyone who walks by your door. that was the first thing. >> that wasn't enough especially since easton itself had fallen on hard times. >> we were very aware of the challenges. we had to dispes the idea that coming downtown was unsafe. we had to create reasons for them to visit. >> that's how community-oriented activities became part of the mer can time home plan to get people to shop local. >> we wanted people to talk about us whether they took a class or came to a community art project. >> they originally collected six collections to give customers reasons to come back to the store. >> if we onto sold candles, we
would haven't been able to 'tract the diversity of customers to come in. so you had to give them note cards and handbags and all the other stuff. >> while the number of seasonal launches is now four, the nearly constant reinvention has become a trademark of the blend and a reason for customers to return. >> everyone who i think evidencely is in this town, five people at the time, how do we make it interesting for those five people again. let's change it over and have a new collection, change it over every five months and they become five and ten and 20. >> they admitted there was another struggle. think didn't know how to best explain their brand. >> ken and i saw it as one of our biggest limitations is trying to get people to understand everything that we did because we put so much into everything wedy, we thought they needed to understand everything we did. >> they've overcome this too.
they don't need to explain anything now. that's because their customers do most of the talking for them. >> folks will walk into the store and you overhear them explaining who we are to the people they bring in. everything is change and it's upcycled and they have classes. dwoejts have to do the work anymore. time to cash in on a digital phenomenon. in case you haven't notice ford your head is in the sand, pokemon go has become the most talked about game of the summer. for good or for bad and i'm not sure which yet, my kids just hit level nine yesterday. the free app using your phone's gps as you move through the real world searching for virtual monsters. it's also driving sales to small businesses. thanks to everything ink.com, they have this.
these are real world places people congregate around. if you're near one, get creative with marketing product discounts and in-store promotions that will help you capture customers. two, keep score. if you've got a gym close by, put up a sign offering discounts and incentives to players who are in control. three, throw down a lufrm powerful lures attract folks to hot spots. you can buy one for what amounts to be 1 dollars an hour. take your business on the road, sets up a pop-up shop or give out markets tools. last, market through social meade yachlt get people excited about that rare pokemon that keeps popping up near your business and reward users who find them. have followers upload
businesses. >> the word "sargento" and cheese go hand in hand. now worth more than a billi ioi dollars, you'd be hard-pressed to find a supermarket or goesry store who doesn't sell cubed cheese or shredded cheese. it's now run by his grandson louie, third generation. we talked with him about hire fwoogd people, treating them like family, and finding a work/life balance in this week's "learning from the pros. ". hire good people and treat them like family was a philosophy that my grandfather started over 63 years ago and it really speaks to the culture at sargento. it means how you would treat your own family, you know. you want to have fun with them, you want to hold them
accountable yochl royn't to treat them with trust and respect. make them feel welcome. have them feel like they're a part of something. have ownership and you want them to embody the spirit of the culture and have the same passion that you as an owner may have. inoh evacuation is absolutely companies need to look at how they can be innovative on daily basis. you can't make it an convenient. you need to follow great practices and procedures in order to create a great product for the future. it's been a huge part of our success over the years and it will con't to be a huge part of our success going forward. but innovation goes beyond creating new products for consumers. it's about doing things differently. new processes, new procedures. so we're innovating every day.
listening to the consumer is actually very important. if companies and individuals aren't looking at who the consumer is that they're trying to deliver great products to, i think you risk your brand having relevance with the consumer. we have a number of different ways that we listen to the consumer and whether it be through facebook or through instagram or twitter, they have multiple ways of interacting with us. in fact, they can call our 1-800-number and listen to a live person and share their ideas on a new product or how great a product is they have in the marketplace. balance and life is something everybody tries to do and it's very hard do, but i think it's important for people to make a conscious effort to make sure they find great balance in life. if your life is all about work, you won't be successful. you have to make sure that you have time to spend with your
family, your friends, celebrate your faith, and just have fun. i love driving my tractor on the weekends. i love to mow lawn, >> i find my tractor time to be great time where i can find peace and think about nothing and focus on the immediate task at hand. i also encourage the sargento family to make sure that they're having fun outside as well. >> when we come back, strategies for marketing an innovative product that could be the first of its kind and why you need t be constantly reinvesting in your business. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? our new cocktail bitters were doing well, but after one tradeshow, we took off.
all i could think about was our deadlines racing towards us. a loan would take too long. we needed money, now. my amex card helped me buy the ingredients to fill the orders. opportunities don't wait around, so you have to be ready for them. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. >> if you have a truly innovative product that does require a little bit of demonstration, what's the best way to market your product to a company? >> the most important thing, whenever i hear the word demo, are you trying to educate the marketplace or are you actually trying to sell the product. if you're trying to educate you're in for a long haul. be very careful with that.
put the demo at the end and not at the beginning. begin with the value. talk about why this product has value. why it's creating value for me and then do the demo. don't try to educate the marketplace. sell the value, sell the experience. get folks to understand what the benefit is to them and then do the demo. if you do it the other way around it's much too long. >> we have the top two tips you need to know to help your small business grow. let's introduce our panel and get their advice. eric is the founder and ceo of retro fitness and let's yo and elizabeth is the entrepreneur at dell where she focuses on small and medium businesses around the world. good to see you both. >> thank you for having us. >> let's start wh you. one tip for the audience. >> my one tip would be if you're growing a small business would be reinvest and do it consistently. i say that because so often
people start a business. you plant the garden and you spend this time and energy and put this garden in and you're going to walk away and never garden it again, you have to reinvest into your garden and your business. you have to put your efforts, your energy and your passion and your money behind it. >> first i thought you were only talking about money and i was going to add also your time. >> yes. >> so when you launch something new you should get that feeling again like remember what it was like when i was a start up. >> that's exactly what we talked about, we talked about the first thing you signed the document to open the franchise and that excitement. >> i'm constantly pitching this as i'm so excited about it. >> all the time. that's the difference between them and the ones that float around and tread water and
drowned. keep the energy. that's the lifeline of your business overtime. >> got it. let's turn to you. throughout your career you worked with small businesses and you're part of accelerators working with people and working with dell of course so what's something that you have found that makes a lot of these companies succeed? >> the most successful companies and most of all ceos and founders put purpose into product. if you really think about what am icon tributing to the world with this business, whether i'm a store on the corner and i'm calf nating every person that can get out there and do a great job or i'm a company like dell and i'm trying to use technology to let the world have access to information what is the purpose behind your business? can you focus on that every single day? and become profitable but while you're doing that how am icon tributing ing to humanity? am i giving back around and put purpose in profit and you'll
continue to succeed. >> i like that you brought up how am icon tributing to my employees because if you're making a spring that goes into mattresses, you might not feel like i have the same purpose as tom shoes which is giving a shoe for every shoe that someone buys but your purpose there is you are providing all of these people jobs and if you treat them well and maybe you're making a very comfortable mattress as well. >> we'll talk about mattresses. i sleep on mine 8 hours a day so it is an important product and i won't be able to succeed without it. whatever that product is, what is the original purpose of it? why did you decide to build it? and stick with that passion but number two entrepreneurs and small businesses are the work force. they're creating 70% of the jobs in this country so they're critical to our economy and
wellbeing and that's a good enough purpose to get up every day. >> i agree and you're in charge of creating the culture of that business. treat people well. they're coming to work every day for your dream and treat them well. that's a great purpose. thank you both so much. >> pokemon go isn't the only app that can help your small business this summer. our viewers gave us more ideas about online tools you can use to make your company more efficient and more profitable. >> one is a web based chat box that goes on our website and helps us get real time feedback from our customers and helps us save and convert more people because we're able to get to their needs and understand those things and also comes straight to our smartphones so we don't have to be a part of a desktop. >> one app is haystack. it's a great tool to store business cards. someone hands you a business card you take a picture of it and the information uploads to
your phone and you don't have to worry about losing it. >> one website that i used very heavily is taylor brands.com. it's a website that enables you to create your own logo. the reason why i like this website is it customizes your design to your taste and likes but it's also a quality product in terms of its presentation and it's very user friendly. >> one of the websites that we have used is shipbob. it's a fulfillment center. but you make a sale and they come and pick up the goods from your warehouse and they pack it for you and they deliver it. so we do our online sales through shipbob but also someone wants samples, i can send them a box of samples just by clicking on my phone. >> this weeks your biz selfie
comes from james who owns milton's local. he provides all natural meat to retail and wholesale out lets. thank you for sending that in. pick up your cell phone and take a selfie of you and your business and sends it to us or if you'd rather use twitter tweet us with the hashtag your biz selfie. thank you for joining us today. here's something that i learned on the show. we featured a company earlier on that boot strapped their company so they had to come up with really creative ways to run it because they had no money and what this reminds me is even if you do have enough money to launch big things, think about them like you are a boot strap company. just take a second to say okay, if every dollar counted, would we do this? it's just a good way to check yourself to make sure that you're being as creative as you need to because often times when
you have a lot of money you stop being creative because it's so easy to launch things. we love hearing from you. if you have questions or comments e-mail us at your firstname.lastname@example.org or head to our website. open forum.com/your business. we posted all the segments from today's show plus more. don't forget to connect with us on our digital and social media platforms as well. we look forward to seeing you next week. until then, remember, we make your business our business. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order
or expand your office and take on whatever comes next. find out how american express cards and services can help prepare you for growth at open.com. >> i have to say that senator tim kaine is everything donald trump and mike pence are not. >> donald trump is the your fired guy. that's what he is known for and when this whole campaign is done and everybody has forgotten it the one thing they will remember about donald trump is you're fired. >> good morning. i'm al sharpton in atlanta. here's a live look inside the wells fargo center in